BWW Previews: MY FAIR LADY at Mitchell Hall Theatre
Jess here. So I don't think I mentioned previously that I'm actually staying in Oklahoma City this summer instead of going back home to Vegas. I'm here doing two wonderful shows, working two jobs, and (as the millennials put it) "adulting." The first musical I'm cast in is Lerner and Loewe's "My Fair Lady" (produced by Summerstock Productions). This is a show I've never gotten the chance to be part of, and I couldn't be happier to finally be participating in "the perfect show." Anyway, I guess I'm writing this to talk about how awesome the production is, and my experience thus far, all while presenting a convincing argument about why you (if you happen to live in the Oklahoma City area) should come out to Mitchell Hall Theatre to see it.
"My Fair Lady" (based on George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion") follows Eliza Doolittle; a working-class Cockney woman in the early 20th Century. When she is discovered by Henry Higgins, a pompous English dialect coach, he decides to take her in and teach her (rather abrasively) how to speak and act like a "real lady." The original Broadway production starred none other than the award winning duo of Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison, and ended up winning a Tony for Best Musical in 1957.
The soundtrack for this show includes some of the coolest music of all time. Iconic songs like "I Could Have Danced all Night," "The Rain in Spain," "On the Street Where You Live," "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," and "Wouldn't it Be Loverly" are classics, and every music theatre fanatic knows at least one song from this show, no matter the age or origin. It is also one of the earliest productions (that I can recall, anyway) that features a powerful leading lady driving the plot. In an era riddled with "quiet, shy ingénues," Eliza Doolittle was one of the first female characters portrayed whose mindset was that of a fierce and unstoppable woman.
This show clearly has a reputable standing in the world of music theatre due to its hilarious dialogue, complex music, and all around intriguing plotline, so who better to direct this masterpiece than the talented, Tony Walton. Walton, a renowned Broadway set and costume designer, has won Tony Awards for numerous productions; ranging from "Pippin" to "Guys and Dolls." His expertise in the art of theatre cannot be denied, and having him as a director has truly been a delight for everyone involved in the production.
Playing Eliza Doolittle is University of Central Oklahoma graduate, Lindsie VanWinkle. Having been cast as Eliza multiple times in the past, VanWinkle brings a wonderful color to the role, giving her sass and spunk that I LOVE. I've only seen her perform for the past week, but everything she does is straight GOLD. She is a pro, as she has also played Mary Poppins, Cathy Hiatt, and basically every other female role that strong leading ladies aspire to portray. Playing the role of Henry Higgins is UCO's own Music Theatre chair, Gregory White. His seasoned skills and vocal elegance offer the perfect match to this complex character's demanding repertoire.
The production is taking place at UCO's Mitchell Hall Theatre; meaning that quite a few University of Central Oklahoma students are involved in the production. And this bunch? Unlike any I've ever seen. I am so SO fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them because every one of them is a gem (and they have dancers..like, DANCERS).
Being part of this cast has been loads of fun so far, and I can't wait to put this production on its feet! I hope I was at least semi-convincing in the area of promoting this incredible show. If you wish to come see the production (and you better), be sure to check out mitchellhalltheatre.com for ticket information. The show runs June 1-3 and 8-10. I hope to see you there ;)
"Must it all be either less or more, either plain or grand? Is it always 'or'? Is it never 'and'?" -Stephen Sondheim